PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Thomas Duffy poured in a game-high 33 points to lead a late Suffolk men's basketball comeback, but it would not be enough as Johnson & Wales held of the Rams, 80-74, in the GNAC semifinals Thursday night at the Wildcat Center.
SCORE: Suffolk 74, Johnson & Wales 80
RECORDS: Suffolk (15-12) | Johnson & Wales (18-9)
HOW IT HAPPENED
Suffolk put together 12 unanswered points over a 2:48 span early on to grab a 12-4 cushion. The roles flipped and the Wildcats went on a 10-2 run to pull within one, 19-18, with half of the first frame removed.
In hopes to settle his team and quiet JWU, Jeff Juron took a timeout to talk things over. The Rams gained composure in the huddle, coming out of the break with a 6-2 stretch capped off by a pair of freebies from George Grillakis to take a five-point lead, 25-20.
Johnson & Wales battled back once again and took the edge at the 6:57 mark. Jim Djema's third triple of the night put the Rams back in front and see-saw action ensued. After three ties and two lead exchanges, Duffy locked the score at 37 and strung two more hoops together to make it a 41-39 Suffolk game at intermission.
The Wildcats surged out of the locker room, rattling off a 17-5 stretch over the first five minutes to put Suffolk in a 10-point hole. The Rams went down by as many as 12 before their comeback started. Suffolk attempted to climb back multiple times, but the Wildcats always had an answer until the final five minutes.
Out of a Suffolk time, Duffy put on a show outscoring the hosts 9-2 to make it a two-point game with just under three minutes to play.
Both teams went scoreless over the next 2:05 before back-to-back bucket from the Wildcats in a 13-second span put the game just out of reach with the hosts ahead, 79-72.
Suffolk gambled with fouling and it almost paid off in its favor. Matt Madoian missed the front end of a one-and-one and Duffy converted on a set of free throws with 10 seconds left, but there was not enough time as Nate Patenaude went 1-for-2 at the charity stripe with 2 seconds on the clock to lock up the 80-74 victory for JWU.
- Duffy's game-high 33 points came off an impressive 68.4 connection rate (13-19) from the field, 5-for-6 showing at the line and a 2-for-4 effort from behind-the-arc. He dished out four dimes to go along with three steals and three boards.
- Djema contributed 17 points, shooting 6-for-9 from the floor and 5-for-8 from three-point range.
- Grillakis recorded 10 points, four boards and a pair of steals.
- Brendan Mulson chipped in nine points and four caroms.
- Kevin Querusio led the way on the glass with six boards.
- Suffolk shot 52.9 percent (27-51) as a team, from the floor 46.7 percent (7-15) from behind-and-arc and 81.3 percent (13-16) from the line.
- The Wildcats outrebounded the Rams, 33-21.
- Suffolk appeared in the GNAC semis for the first time in the Juron era, first time since 2007 and fourth time overall and first time as the sixth seed.
- The Rams and Wildcats met in the conference semis for the first time.
- Suffolk put together is most successful season since 2001-02 (17-11).
- Duffy became the second-ever Ram to drop 30-plus points under Juron and the first since Michael Hagopian scored 37 in a 101-86 win over Mount Ida Jan. 27.
- Duffy's 33 points are the most scored by a Ram in a GNAC Tournament game with his 13 field goals also marking a program record in conference post season games.
- Duffy's career-high 33 points mark the 12th contest the sophomore had 20-plus points this season. Overall, he has scored double figures in 25 games this season and 14th straight.
- Grillakis surpassed 10 or more points for the ninth time this year.
- Djema had his eight outing with double digit scoring.